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schools in the room of the Vulgate. This tranflation did not meet with the fame approbation from the Roman Catholicks, who, perhaps, out of prejudice, accufed Beza of having accommodated his verfion to his prejudices. Though it hath been feveral times printed in England, yet the English have not expreffed the fame value for it as the reft of the proteftants. It was even judiciously enough criticized upon in feveral places by a Canon of Ely (d), who had been put upon it by the bishop of that diocefe (e). Bifhop Walton (ƒ) is of opinion, that Beza hath been justly charged with having departed from the common reading without neceffity, or having on his fide the authority of the manufcripts, and alfo with deciding frequently in a magifterial way, and having fubftituted mere conjectures to the words of the original. But it is only reading this verfion, to be fatisfied of the contrary. The account Beza gives in his preface of the method he had followed, is far from thofe peremptory airs which he is charged withal. If he hath not always followed his own rules, this is a fault common to him with all tranflators. Dr. Mill hath kept no more moderation than Walton in the judgment he hath paffed upon this verfion.
However, it cannot be denied but that Beza was beft qualified for fuch an undertaking. He was a perfect master of both languages, and fuppofing he was not fo thoroughly fkilled in Hebrew, as fome pretend, yet he tells us that in tranflating the Hebraifms he had the affiftance of perfons very well verfed in that tongue. Befides, he had before him a greater number of Greek manufcripts, than any of thote that had undertaken the fame work before him. And accordingly he hath taken care to set down the various readings in his notes, and finds fault with others for not having done the fame, and thereby given every one an opportu nity of chufing the best. All that he can be blamed for, is his partiality in expreffing a greater regard for the Latin than the Greek fathers. But, after all, his verfion muft be allowed to be the best of all made in thofe times except the Zurich tranflation (*).
(d) John Boife in 1556. (e) Lancelot. (*) I fhall now fubjoin a fhert account of our English tranflations.
Of the English tranflations.
"We are told by "our English hiftorians, "that fome part of the bible was tranflated in the begin"ning of the Sth century into our "vulgar tongue, which was then the "Saxon. John de Trevifa affures us, that ❝ venerable Bede, who flourished about "the year 701, tranflated the whole "bible into the English Saxon. There "are fome who affirm that Adelm, "biflop of Sherborne, who was co"temporary with Bede, tranflated the "pfalms into that language; which "tranflation is by others attributed "to king Alfred, who lived near 200
(Walton Proleg. Diff. iv. years after. There is now extant a tranflation in the English Saxon, "done from the ancient vulgar, be "fore it was revited by St. Jerom. "It was printed at London in the year
1571, by the care of John Fox, and "by the order and direction of arch"bifhop Parker. A tranflation of the "pialnis in the fame language was "printed by Spelman in 1640.
"John Wicliffe, who flourished "about the year. 1360, tranflated the "whole bible from the vulgar vertion "of St. Jerom, and finished it in the
year 1383. This tranflation was "never printed, but there are co"pies of it in feveral libraries, as "Cotton's, St. James's at Lambeth, &c.
"to print it there; from whence it "received the name of the Geneva "bible. Thefe were Miles Coverdale,
Chriftopher Goodman, Anthony Gil"by, Thomas Sampfon, William Cole, "William Wittingham and John Knox. "It was first printed in 1560, and "hath had several editions fince.
"But for the publick ufe of the "church, the biflops refolved about. "this time to make a new tranfla"tion. Archbishop Parker fet forward
and highly promoted this work, "and got the Bishops and fome other "learned men to join together, and
to review, correct, and amend the "tranflation of the holy fcriptures in the vulgar tongue. This bible was "published in the year 1568, in a "large folio, and called The Great "English Bible, and commonly alfo "The Bishops' Bible, as being tranf"lated by feveral bishops.
"John de Trevifa, who died in the (" year 1398, did alfo tranflate both "the Old and New Teftament, about "the fame time, or a little after "Wicliffe; but whether there are any copies of it extant, I know not. "The first time the holy fcripture tr was printed in English, was about "the year 1526; and that was only "the New Teftament about that time "tranflated by William Tindal, affifted "by Joy and Conftantine, and print-"to take each his part and portion, "ed in fome foreign parts. In the year 1532, Tindal and his compa"nions finifhed the whole bible and "printed it in foreign parts, all but "the Apocrypha. Some time after this, "whilft a fecond edition was prepar-. ing, William Tindal was taken up "and burnt for herefy in Flanders: however, the work was carried on by John Rogers. He wholly tranf-Tomfon pretended to make a new "lated the Apocrypha, and revifed "Tindal's tranflation, comparing it "with the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. "He added prefaces and notes out of "Luther, and dedicated the whole, to "king Henry the Eighth, under the "borrowed name of Thomas Mat- "The Parifts by this time finding "thews; for which reafon this has it impoffible to keep the people "been commonly called Matthews's" from having the fcriptures in the "bible. This was printed at Ham-vulgar tongue, thought convenient "burgh, at the charges of Grafton" to make a tranflation of it them"and Whitchurch.
"In the year 1583, one Laurence
"verfion of the New Teftament from "Beza's edition; together with a "tranflation of Beza's notes. But "he has very feldom varied fo much "as a word from the Geneva tranfla"tion.
"felves, and accordingly in the year "1584, published a new verfion of it "printed at Rheims, and from thence
called the Rhemih tranflation. "was. refuted by Mr. Cartwright, and Dr. Fulke.
"But the lait and best tranflation "of the bible into English, is that
which was made towards the begin"ning of the laft century by order "of king James I. and is now in ufe The chief hands con among us. "cerned in this work, were bishop "Andrews, Dr. Overall, Dr. Duport, "Dr. Abbot, &c."
For a fuller account of all these tranflations, fee Bibliotheca Literaria, N° IV.
SOCIETY OF CHRISTIANS SOCIETY OF
CITY OF NORWICH,
Whom I ferve in the Gospel of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, Grace, Mercy and Peace from God, our FATHER, and from the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
T is my Honour and Pleafure, as well as Duty, to ferve you in the Gospel of our Lord Jefus Chrift: and your kind Acceptance, and due Improvement of my honeft and well intended Labours is the greatest Encouragement I defire. Your Affections and friendly Regards are, in Effect, the whole World to me: And it is my Ambition to purchase them, only by fuch worthy Actions, and honourable Discharge of Duty, as deferve a juft and folid Efteem.
Too many, I fear, have but imperfect uncertain Notions of Chriftianity: But I would gladly give you fuch a View of the Gospel Scheme, as may eftablish you in the Faith of Jefus Chrift upon the most just and folid Grounds; and fuch a deep Sense of the Love of God in Him, as may form and fix every good principle in the Mind, productive of all Righteoufnefs in the Converfation.
With this only View, the Book before you was written; and it was Originally defigned for your Service alone. For which Reason, and as it is the Work of One, whofe Character and Converfation you are well acquainted with; who ardently defires your fpiritual Improvement, in order to your eternal Felicity; and who, for a confiderable Time, has laboured among you for your common Good, it is my very earnest and particular Requeft, that you would, and my Hope that you will, read and study it carefully.
We may not indulge our own Conceits in Matters of Revelation. Every Point advanced as Chriftian Doctrine, ought to be found in Scripture, and explained by Scripture, ftrictly regarding the Principles there taught, and the eftablithed Senfe of Phrafes there uled. And it is the Defign of this Effay, fetting afide all human Schemes, and my own Imagination, to give you the true Scheme of Chriftianity, collected immediately from that pure Fountain, carefully comparing one Part with another; that your Faith, Hope, and Joy may ftand, not upon the Wisdom of Man, but upon the firm and immoveable Foundation of the Word of God.
I can truly fay, I have taken great Care to go every where upon good and fure Grounds. I have not affected Novelty, nor inferted any one fingle Sentiment, merely because new and plaufible; but because I am perfuaded it is the true and real, or the most probable Senfe, of Revelation.
And yet I think it my Duty to advife you, to read what I have writ proper Caution ; for after all the Care and Pains I have taken to fee and fhew the Truth, I dare not pretend to be free from all Miftakes. The Apoftles were infpired, and infallible Writers, but we are none of us either infpired, or infallible Interpreters. Nor is it neceffary we fhould. In the Works of Creation, God has fo clearly fhewn his eternal Godhead, Wifdom, Goodnefs, and Power, that they, who do not fee and acknowledge them, are inexcufable; and many able and ingenious Hands have been well and fuccefsfully employed in fearching into, and explaining the various Appearances and Productions in the Natural World. But who ever pretended to penetrate into all the Receffes of Nature, or to give a perfect unerring Account of all her Appearances? Even fo, the Holy Scriptures do give us fuch a true, clear, and full Account of the Divine Difpenfations, and of the Way to eternal life, that every one, who is willing to understand, may very clearly and certainly fee what is fufficient to guide him to Salvation. And it is the Duty of fuch as have Knowledge and Learning, to dig in thofe facred Mines; and to endeavour, as they are able, to bring into clearer Light the rich Treafures which may have been hidden through the Ignorance, Error, and Superftition of foregoing Ages. And several worthy and learned Pens have been happily employed in this useful and neceflary Work. But who will prefume to fay, he has in every Inftance brought forth the pure and precious Metal, without any Mixture of Drofs? The Pretences of the Church of Rome to Infallibility, are proved by their own different Sects and Sentiments, and by many of their Tenets, which are either without any Ground in Scripture, or directly Contrary to it, to be manifeftly falle and arrogant. Nor is the Perfection of Knowledge, or Infallibility of Sentiment, needful to our SalFor while we every one of us feriously endeavour to find the Truth, and to be governed by it, whatever the Quantity of Knowledge, or Certainty of Perfuafion be, to which we attain, we do all that is in our Power, and all that God requires of us; nor can we be destitute of that Faith, which is neceffary to Salvation. So far as we truly follow the Scriptures, we are infallibly fure we are in the Right: And fo far as we honestly and fin.erely endeavour to follow them, we are infallibly
fure of God's acceptance. But none of us have dominion over the faith of our fellow-chriftians and fervants; nor muft any one pretend to fet up for mafter in Chrift's fchool. Chrift alone is our Master and Lord; and we ought not, as indeed, juftly, we cannot, fubftitute any fuppofed infallible guide in his place.
I only prefefs, to point at the light fhining in revelation. It is to that light, and not to me, you are to turn your eyes. Indeed, I am perfuaded, that in the principal parts and general fcheme of the gofpel, I am not mistaken. However, it is incumbent upon you, not implicitly to fwallow every thing I advance; but to examine carefully, whether it be well grounded upon the word of God.
I have endeavoured to make every thing eafy and intelligible. But he, who has been much in perufing the apoftolic writings, is beft prepared to apprehend what is here advanced. And when a perfon has digefted, and made familiar, the phrafes and fentiments here explained, he will reap but little fruit, if he doth not immediately apply himself to reading the Acts and Epiftles. To give a clear understanding of them, in particular, is the defign of what is here offered; and therefore the careful reading of them, fhould fucceed the perufal of this. And if both were read alternately, firft the one, and then the other, I am perfuaded fuch an exercife would turn to good account. But a perfon little verfed in the apoftolic writings, can be no competent judge of what I have done; and he, who doth not apply what he here learns, to his affiftance in ftudying them, will receive less benefit
Above all, we should remember; that a vain wordly, fenfual mind is in no condition to fee, or relifh the truth as it is in Jefus: nor can any explications force knowledge upon thofe that are not willing to underftand. The love of truth, purity of mind, and patient application, are neceffary on your part; and I am perfuaded will render the principal things plain, and give you the pleasure of feeing the truth clearly in feveral points, hitherto reckoned very dark and abftrufe.
You will not, indeed, be able to form a compleat judgment upon fome of the criticisms. Yet you fhould not theretore forbear to read them; becaufe you will meet with feveral useful obfervations, which lie within the reach of such as are not acquainted with the learned languages.
It thould never be forgot, that to spend one's time even in commenting and fpeculating upon the Sacred Writings, if we do not imbibe the principles they teach, lay them to heart, and reduce them to prac tice, amounts to no more, than diverting one's felf with any commen amufement. St. Paul was ravished with the charms of the golpel; he felt its power and efficacy upon his own heart; it railed him, in the brightest views of glory, honour and immortality, far above ail earthly things. And we then understand the gospel to purpoic, when in the fame manner it works upon every fpring of action with
It is your honour and happiness, that you have always been a peaceable people. You icorn to pratite the unchriftian methods of